I have loved words since I was a small child. My mother taught me the value of words, sharing endless stories and singing lullabies every night. She taught me to read when I was very young, and took us on trips to the library week after week. She encouraged and respected my heart-broken angst-ridden poetry when I was a teenager. She proof-read and criticized my essays and papers throughout my entire school career. She treated me like a small person - rather than a child - throughout the duration of my childhood, never dumbing down her vocabulary, and challenging my mind with british phrasings and new words we discovered together. I don't know if I can ever fully express my unending gratitude to her for giving me the gift of words. But if you're reading this, mum, thank-you so much. Words have done more for me than I would ever have imagined.
My mother works in a library. She is a children's librarian at a small branch. She attends book clubs, leads story times for more than fifty people at a time, makes detailed, caring and intelligent recommendations to her friends and her patrons (and me!), co-authors a blog about Young Adult fiction (check her out at The Paperback Princesses) and she LOVES books. Perhaps more than I do. She has books at her bedside, in her purse, partly read on her e-reader, on the kitchen counter, and beside her laptop. I learned how to read multiple stories at once from her. Most people think we are crazy (How do you find the time? How do you keep them straight? (and my personal favourite) Why do you read them more than once?!)
We don't "find" time. We MAKE time. We keep them straight because we want to, and because it is easy - YOU keep characters and plot-lines from various TV shows straight...WE do the same for our novels. And we read them more than once because they have challenged our minds, impacted our hearts, and hit us deep in some emotional place we want to return to. Words are like magic strewn across paper or a back-lit screen - little pieces of composition that someone took the time to write, so we will take the time to read.
I have books in most rooms of my house as well. I have one in my work bag, one under my pillow, and one beside me as I type this. I also have a notebook for thoughts, a gratitude journal for humbling remembrance and a day-planner to keep me organized. I still have a black and white composition book for poetry, and my Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to have a book published within the next five years. It will happen.
Sometimes words flow from my fingertips faster than the pen or the keyboard can keep up with. I write until my fingers cramp and my palm aches - so I shake them out, and start again. Sometimes my pens have an ink-drought, when the well of my imagination runs dry. But the words are always there, always hovering in the background of my mind, even if I can't seem to get them out. I express myself best when I can write out my emotions, which is why 99/100 times I will text or email you before I will pick up the phone and call. I think in words, and not in images. My visual art has words hidden within it, and novels are the greatest form of escapism I have ever found. I can watch TV and read, and I can sing along (out loud) to the radio while I read a book in the car. Throughout my life there has always been one constant, always been one past-time I come back to. Reading. And I will never, ever stop.
Footnote: In five days I have completed two books by Lauren Oliver; Delerium and Pandemonium. I cannot even express in words how fabulous these books were, and what they did for me emotionally. I haven't raced through books that voraciously in months. I was craving that kind of gut-wrenching soul-immersing fiction, and I found it in her work. I cannot BELIEVE I have to wait until next spring for the final book in her trilogy...but thankfully, it will give me an excuse to re-read her books :) And, as a result of a post on her blog, (linked above) I am committing to a more conscious effort to spend more time on writing, and less time on things that don't matter.
Here goes nothing...